Monday, November 19, 2007

Dichter says the Gaza Strip is 'lost'

Gaza is "lost," and Egypt is doing nothing to stop the continued arms smuggling across the border, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said on Sunday. His comments came as he toured Moshav Nativ Ha'asarah, a border community which has been particularly hard-hit by the continued Kassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
"The Annapolis summit is meant to stabilize the situation in the West Bank, because Gaza is already lost," Dichter said.
"I live only ten kilometers away from here," the minister told residents, who expressed concern over the government's inability to stem the rocket fire.
"In Ashkelon, the situation may be different, but I understand it very well. We need to halt the rocket fire by controlling rather than taking control. It's not enough to deal with the rocket fire - we must also deal with the independence of Hamas, which is smuggling in weapons such as anti-tank missiles similar to those Hizbullah used against us in Lebanon."
Dichter also laid the blame for Hamas's continued amassment of arms on Egypt's lax policy of patrolling the border, saying that it would be possible to stop arms smuggling in "an hour" if Egypt decided to take action.
"Hamas is turning into a terrorist army," he said. "It is arming and building up in every way like an army. I suggest a three-part plan: An operation against the continued rocket fire, action against Hamas gaining strength, and an operation to end Hamas's ability [to wage war]."
"I am demanding that the government continue IDF action against Hamas," Dichter continued. "We have the ability to do that, unlike in Lebanon. There, Hizbullah was part of the state, whereas here Hamas in Gaza is defined as a hostile entity against which we can act."
The tough words came as residents voiced despair over the security situation.
"It is not possible to live here like this," Chairman of the Nativ Ha'asarah Agricultural Committee Shaike Shaked told Dichter. "The community will collapse."
This sentiment was later echoed by another resident of the town, who told the minister that "we have no life, the IDF doesn't react, and the situation is only getting worse. Maybe they should just evacuate us."

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